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Sports Report: U.S. Men's Soccer Team Still Alive In Bid For 2018 World Cup

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Soccer:

The United States men's soccer team is still alive for the 2018 World Cup following its 4-0 rout of Guatemala in qualifying play. Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron, Graham Zuzi and Jozy Altidore scored and Team USA goalie Brad Guzman, one of five new starters for the Americans, needed to make just two saves in recording the shutout.

NBA:

In the NBA, Orlando bested Brooklyn 139-105, Charlotte beat Philadelphia 100-85, Chicago topped Indiana 98-96, Detroit won against Oklahoma City 88-82, Houston beat Cleveland 106-100, and it was Golden State over Washington 102-94.

Atlanta city leaders are asking the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte after North Carolina lawmakers passed legislation seen as limiting LGBT protections. Atlanta's City Council introduced a resolution Tuesday asking the NBA to move the game to Atlanta after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law critics called discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

The North Carolina law prevents Charlotte and other local governments from approving LGBT protections at restaurants, hotels and stores. An NBA spokesman says the league is hopeful Charlotte and North Carolina can work through their differences long before the game.

The Pelicans say guard Jrue Holiday and forward Alonzo Gee will miss the rest of this season because of injuries suffered in Monday's win over the Knicks. The Pelicans say Holiday's orbital eyewall was fractured when he was hit by an apparently inadvertent elbow from New York's Kristaps Porzingis. The club says Gee ruptured a muscle in his right thigh. Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, and guards Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Bryce Dejean-Jones, already had been shut down for the season.

In other basketball news:

— Chris Paul won't play for the U.S. basketball team in this summer's Olympics, passing up a chance for a third gold medal. Paul played for the U.S. in 2008 and 2012 and could have joined LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in trying to become the first players to win three Olympic basketball gold medals.

NHL:

In the NHL, New Jersey edged Boston 2-1, the Islanders skated by Carolina in a shootout 2-1, Montreal edged Detroit 4-3, Toronto beat Florida 5-2, Minnesota bested Chicago 4-1, St. Louis topped Colorado 3-1, Dallas defeated Nashville 5-2, and it was San Jose over Vancouver 4-1.

NCAA:

NHL coaching veteran Greg Carvel has been named the 14th ice hockey head coach at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He is scheduled to be introduced during a press conference on Thursday.

Syracuse University is hosting a brief public pep rally for its Final Four-bound men's and women's basketball teams. The event begins at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Manley Arena on campus. Doors open to the public at noon.

Among those scheduled to speak are men's coach Jim Boeheim, women's coach Quentin Hillsman, and Syracuse alumna New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The men play Atlantic Coast Conference foe North Carolina in the national semifinals in Houston on Saturday night, while the women play Washington on Sunday night in Indianapolis. The men's title will be decided Monday night and the women's Tuesday night.  Syracuse is one of only nine schools to send both the men's and women's teams to the Final Four in the same year.

NFL:

The New York Giants have res-signed linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who was the team's third-leading tackler last season. Brinkley heads into his eighth NFL season and second with the Giants. He joined them two days after Dallas cut him in September. Four days after signing with New York, Brinkley was on the field against Dallas in a loss.

The NFL has demanded The New York Times retract a story that called the league's concussion research flawed and likened the NFL's handling of head trauma to the tobacco industry's response to the dangers of cigarettes.

In a letter from its law firm to the general counsels of the newspaper and obtained by The Associated Press, the league says it was defamed by the Times. The NFL adds the story published Thursday did not "present a shred of evidence to support its thesis that the NFL intentionally concealed concussion research data."

The NFL also says it will "more broadly reserve all of the league's rights and remedies," a veiled threat of legal action. In response, Times sports editor Jason Stallman says, "We see no reason to retract anything."

MLB:

Mets ace Matt Harvey has been cleared to pitch the season opener Sunday against Kansas City. That was in doubt after he began to feel discomfort Sunday that worsened through the night. It turns out he had a blood clot in his bladder which he's been able to pass. He was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts last year after missing 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Minnesota Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 6-2 yesterday in a rain-shortened game. Hanley Ramirez got two hits for Boston before the game was stopped with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Red Sox starter Joe Kelly went four innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks.

The Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 1-0 yesterday. Sean Gilmartin started in place of Matt Harvey. He allowed one run and three hits in three innings. Harvey had a blood clot in his bladder Monday and was limited in his activity yesterday.

A New York Yankees split squad led the Philadelphia Phillies 7-1 yesterday when the game was rained out. Masahiro Tanaka pitched four innings, allowing seven hits but just one run. The start of the game was delayed 40 minutes by rain and called after four innings because of lightning in the area.

The other New York Yankees split squad beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 yesterday in a game shortened to five innings because of rain. CC Sabathia allowed two runs and three hits over four innings. The former ace is competing with Ivan Nova to be the Yankees' fifth starter. Sabathia was coming off an outing Thursday in which he allowed two runs over five innings against Tampa Bay.

In other spring training news:

— Ricky Nolasco is the fifth starter in the Twins rotation after the team cut its roster to the 25-man regular season limit. He gets the nod despite a 5.64 ERA over his last two injury-affected seasons with Minnesota.

— The Cubs have released veteran outfielder Shane Victorino. He was in camp on a minor league contract. The Cubs have also placed utilityman Javier Baez on the 15-day disabled list with an injured left thumb.

— Jeff Francouer has made the Braves opening day roster after he hit .327 in 19 spring training games. Francoeur made his major league debut with the Braves back in 2005.

— The Texas Rangers have acquired catcher Bryan Holaday in a trade with the Detroit Tigers, who get two minor l

Fantasy Sports:

Small businesses that provide fantasy sports say legislation requiring them to pay a $500,000 licensing fee would make New York too expensive for all but industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel. A new trade association, called Small Business of Fantasy Sports, says "mom and pop type businesses" make up most of the industry.

Sailing:

Part of America's Cup — considered to be sailing's most prestigious event — will return to New York City for the first time in nearly a century. The multi-day sailing event is part of a series of preliminary events leading up to the next America's Cup. It will be held May 7-8. It's a prelude to next year's America's Cup in Bermuda.

Organizers say the regatta will be the first time the event has been in New York City since 1920. The race will take place along the Hudson River near Battery Park in Manhattan. Officials say it is an ideal location because it brings fans closer to the racing action in New York and New Jersey. They expect more than 20,000 people to attend.

©2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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